Text: Ephesians 6: 16; Mathew 4:
The Roman soldier’s armor.
While on the battlefield the Roman soldier never took off certain armor: the wide leather belt that covered his lower abdomen, could, at a moments notice, be used to tuck in all the loose ends of his tunic, making him streamlined, illusive, and battle ready. His breastplate protected him from unseen archers who could launch an arrow that could pierce his heart and kill him. He would always have his specifically designed battle shoes on--if he couldn’t stand or withstand he couldn’t fight.
The Believer’s armor.
Like certain pieces of the Roman soldier’s armor, as metaphor, the believer had the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, and the shoes of the gospel of peace. These were meant to be constantly worn.
Staying with the metaphor, Paul uses a specific a specific word when talking about the Believer’s shield of faith. The Roman soldier carried two types of shields. One was disc shaped, about 2 feet in diameter. It was used to parry the sword thrusts of an enemy in hand-to-hand combat. Many a little boy used the pickets of a fence, and the cover of a garbage-can as a make believe sword and shield of this sort. I know I did.
In battle, no soldier was in the preferred situation when he was isolated, and fighting for his life with the smaller shield as his only protection. The optimum strategy for success and survival was to stay behind the big shields held by those on the front lines of battle. The big shields were over 4 feet tall and more than 2 feet wide. Soldiers could crouch behind them; their entire body concealed and protected against fiery darts/arrows. The big shield allowed soldiers to link-up with one another. side-by-side, the bearers of the big shields could form a wall and ceiling of protection. From behind those big shields, archers and swordsmen would strike back against the enemy. Also, those big shields could be soaked in water, so that incoming flaming darts would be quenched when they struck the shield. This was important. Why? Because the big shields, drenched in water, snuffed out the fiery arrows and prevented collateral damage from burning shards and splinters and shrapnel that could wound fellow comrades.
The believer’s armor is the Big Shield and described with this subtle change, In all circumstances take up the [BIG] shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one. ~ Ephesians 6:16 This piece of armor is to be taken up and used at specific times.
This Sunday, we will work through the question, “How Big Is Your Shield?”